Greek police arrest German on suspicion of spying

ATHENS (Reuters) - A 72-year-old German man has been arrested on a Greek island on suspicion of spying for Turkey, police said on Saturday.

The man told police he had photographed barracks and other military-related buildings on the island of Chios for five people he believed were Turkish nationals who paid him up to 1,500 euros ($2,000) for each assignment.

Police suspect the individuals worked for the Turkish secret services, a Greek police official who spoke on condition of anonymity said, adding that investigations were ongoing.

The man has been living on the island near the Turkish coast for the last four years and had been taking photographs of military bases for at least three years, police said.

He was arrested on Friday and will appear before a prosecutor to face espionage charges.

A German foreign ministry spokesman said the embassy in Athens was aware of the case and was trying to contact the man. The Turkish embassy was not immediately reachable for comment.

Turkey and Greece have a long history of enmity and have come to the brink of war on several occasions, most recently in 1996 over an uninhabited Aegean islet, although relations have warmed in recent years.

Police said they had found in the man’s possession cameras, laptops, maps and glasses with an embedded camera, and an email the he had sent last week to an unidentified recipient with details on Greek warships and army vehicles on Chios.

The email also mentioned a widely reported incident last Tuesday in which Greek coastguards intercepted a boat containing guns and explosives in the waters near Turkey, close to Chios.

Turkey said two of six people arrested were members of a Turkish militant group. ($1 = 0.7528 euros)

Reporting by Karolina Tagaris in Athens and Andreas Rinke in Berlin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy